Staying Fit When Sick

It happens to everyone: you’re eating well, exercising and feeling great.  Until you aren’t.  A cold, flu, or other illness way-lays for a few days.  The question is: when do you know if it’s OK to exercise and when should you simply rest and recover?

If you’re working in a public gym or taking a group class, you probably already know that patrons are encouraged to wipe down equipment and disinfect surfaces  If there is a chance that your bug might be contagious, please stay home.  Sun salutations shouldn’t come with a side of shared sniffles.

But what if you work out at home or outside?  Or if your bug has moved past the infectious stage?

Many physicians and trainers suggest that you base your decision to exercise or not on the “neck” test. If your symptoms are below the neck -aching body, chest congestion, fever or fatigue- your body needs rest more than it needs the additional strain of exercise.

However, if your symptoms are all above the neck: sniffles, sore throat, watery eyes it’s probably alright to exercise.  Make sure you drink a bit more water than normal, as these symptoms tend to be dehydrating.  And give yourself permission to cut back on the intensity of your routine.  Your body is using precious energy to heal from the bug.  While you may be energized by a hard workout, you may be slowing your body’s ability to recover from both the flu and the exercise.  Instead of an hour spin class or kettle-bell bootcamp, choose a lower intensity routine or the healing effects of a yoga class.

While exercising, remember not to use your workout towel to wipe your nose or mouth, then wipe down equipment.  DO use a clean workout towel to wipe down equipment before you use it (just in case), lay the towel down on equipment while you’re using it, and wipe the equipment clean when you’re finished.  Also consider throwing a hand sanitizer in your gym bag.


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